In 1989 Stephen Covey wrote a classic entitled: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
This is a book Stark County community activist Thomas Marcelli of Bethlehem Township would do well to read. Marcelli is a charter member of the Stark County Citizens Right to Vote Committee.
This committee is out and about Stark County collecting signatures to get an issue on the Stark County ballot come November as to whether or not a January, 2009 Stark County commissioners imposed 1/2% sales/use tax increase shall stand.
In today's Repository, there is a letter to the editor from Mr. Marcelli. It is, in the opinion of the SCPR, "a cart before the horse" letter.
In this letter, Marcelli is raising questions about the ability of the Stark County commissioners to compute. He gets into the 9-1-1 funding question and how the numbers do not square up.
Where Marcelli apparently wants to go with this letter but cannot quite figure out how to get there, is to point out that millions of dollars annually generated by the imposed sales/use tax increase will go to Stark County's general fund and a lesser portion will go towards the reconfiguring of s countywide 9-1-1.
But even if Marcelli was more articulate; he still misses the main point of quest of Stark County Citizens Right to Vote Committee: "get the repeal or not repeal the imposed sales/use tax issue" on the ballot. This is what Covey means in setting forth the "effectiveness principles" (i.e. Put First Things First) in his book.
A former member of Marcell's group recently told the SCPR that Marcelli is not a good public face on the group's effort because Marcelli doesn't get it.
You take someone like yours truly. Process is a priority with the SCPR. It is a worthy citizen enterprise to push to have citizens vote on whether or not a new tax in added to the public burden.
If "the right to vote" was the only argument advanced by the Citizens' group (and it may be with some of the other circulators), that, then, would be an example of "putting first things first." Such an approach along with having a walking list from the Stark County Board of Elections in hand, would pretty much ensure that Stark Countians have an opportunity to vote on the commissioners action in November.
The way the Citizens group is going now, who knows what will be the outcome?
In addition to being a big believer in citizens participating in the decisions of government, yours truly thinks that Stark County does need the money to fix 9-1-1 and does need the money for Stark County's general fund.
So if a petition circulator were to approach me on the substantive issue rather than the procedural issue, would I sign the petition?
What Marcelli has done in writing the referenced letter is to bring joy to the hearts of the folks he singles out: Bosley, Harmon, Ferguson, Perez, Zeigler and Swanson. Moreover, SCOG Governing Committee chairman Randy Gonzalez has to be jumping for joy as undoubtedly is 9-1-1 project manager Joseph Concatto.
They have found a new best friend in the quest to keep the 1/2% sales/use tax in place. Irony upon irony, it looks like Marcelli might be best hope to keep the tax the way it is.
So why wouldn't they sign on to the "love note" that the SCPR is suggesting might be in order.
The is no doubt about Marcelli's dedication and zeal. But he may turn out to be the undoing of the petition initiative.
Maybe Mr. Marcelli just ought to consider Stephen Covey's counsel?